Would it be useful to include a testing regime with a law at the time it is proposed? Perhaps this would be more appropriate for some laws more than others. Can we test how well our legal justice system is functioning? Would the sytem tend to be more fair if participants thought they might be being tested?
Jason would you care to ellaborate a little? What you are describing right now sounds a lot like Big Brother from 1984..... I don't think that's a very good path to go down.....
Basically there would be violations that are simulated to see how the entire process of investigation, conviction, and punishment are being conducted. For instance, they could fake stealing something to see how the overall legal justice system is operating. If an innocent person is accused they could of course step in and explain that it was a test.
To some extent the current appeals court system in the USA and most of the western world plays a role of testing the laws by enabling challenges to their constitutionality. Of course, that is not the same as designing an experiment to test whether a law will perform properly over a sampling of cases.
The problem of ethics and fairness would arise when the prosecutors charge a
suspect with a crime they know she or he did not commmit. If you ever watched the great film
Judgement at Muremburg Spencer Tracy who plays an American judge on the tribunal makes that type of point to Burt Lancaster, a former German judge: that he lost his integrity when he found a man
guilty who he knew was innocent. It would not be just about a guilty verdict that could be thrown out because it was
only a test; charging a suspect, turning her or him into a defendant, putting them in jail until he or she raised bail would be plenty traumatic and stigmatizing enough, especially if the defendent lost a job or could not pay a mortgange and lost a house.
Having said all that, there are some laws and regulations that do not matter so much have anything directly to do with crime that have measurable performance effects and effectiveness. For example, if a state has a law against teaching sex education, it should be feasible to evaluate that law in terms of the rate of teenage pregnancy and STDs. And it would then be possible to compare those rates against the rates in states that do teach a full curriculum of sex ed. There could be similar studies for pollution control, wildlife preservation, other types of conservation, and infrastructure maintenance (e.g., states that don't pay for it have a more crumbling, dangersous, and failure-prone infrastructure than states that do.
As Marc has suggested, there is no particular need for testing as such, so long as any system of governance includes a mechanism for amending legislation. Besides, such testing as you appear to be proposing can be very difficult to implement.
However, an open
brainstorm (and, perhaps,
role-play) period could allow the constituency to run through various possible scenarios to investigate what potential consequences might arise. There probably isn't any need for a live test, but there might be room for hypothetical evaluations. For example, assuming a person with malicious intent, how might a person abuse the promoted system if it were to be established? How could we prevent such abuse?